Ginger Plants are not commonly used as houseplants, but some varieties have striking foliage that may make you want to consider it! This is a staple in outdoor planters during the summer season and can be a staple in your home with the proper care and understanding.
Types of Ginger Plants:
Ginger Plants tend to have common names based on how each of their flowers look. All of their flowers are very unique in shape, size, and (sometimes) even different colors. Zingiber officinale is the original ginger plant used for cooking and spices.
Alpinia zerumbet commonly called Shell Ginger (Variegata)
Drooping white clusters of flowers.
You can use the leaves to make tea.
Etlingera elatior commonly called Torch Ginger
Red bracts forming a dense cluster with bright yellow flowers.
This plant is edible. Leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds can all be prepared and eaten.
Alpinia purpurata commonly called Red Ginger
Flowers ranging from red, pink, and shades of purple with an upright shape.
This plant is edible. Leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds can all be prepared and eaten.
Zingiber spectabile commonly called Beehive Ginger
The blooms look like thick layered, candles visibly resembling a beehive with flowers poking out of the bracts. The colors range from red, pink, orange, yellow, and white between the beehive and the flowers poking out of it.
Used in shampoo and the leaves and rhizomes are edible.
Hedychium coronarium commonly called Moth Ginger
Bright white flowers, shaped like the wings of a moth, with pale yellow in the center.
Edible roots and blooms.
Costus barbatus commonly called Spiral Ginger
Bright red bracts with yellow flowers poking out from the bracts.
Flowers are edible.
Globba winitii commonly called Dancing Ladies Ginger
This is a rare variety of ginger that has drooping wispy pinkish-purple bracts and bright yellow tiny flowers.
Bright, indirect light is the best position for Ginger Plants, especially the variegated varieties. Indoors, placing these near a south window, allows for the highest potential for the fullest foliage but they can do well in east or west windows. If you've used the plant as outdoor interest and want to move it indoors during the off-season, you can do a couple things. You can keep the plant in increased light (if you plan to keep the foliage healthy) or you can dig up the bulb and store in a cool dry place. The bulbs don't need to be kept in a bright area. These can be grown and stored very similar to the Canna Lily!
Keeping this plant moist is important! Make sure you are not allowing the plant to completely dry out in-between watering otherwise you will see browning leaf tips.
Humidity is also a key factor for this plant's success and adding humidity will also prevent browning leaf tips.
If you aren't quite sure if you are providing too little or too much water, I would highly recommend trying a Moisture Meter Reader. It is a great tool to measure the moisture until you understand the watering cadence needed for your conditions. If you are also looking for the best way to increase humidity, the most effective way would be using a humidifier. There are MANY different kinds out there and you do not need to buy a humidifier that is specific to houseplants to be successful. I currently use one that is Honeywell brand linked here.
As I always say, there are LOTS of ways to fertilize plants. Unless you are extremely over-fertilizing your plant, there isn't necessarily a wrong way to do this. I currently use Fox Farm's Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer and I normally fertilize every 2 weeks when I water my plants, starting around the end of February through October. I honestly probably only fertilize once or twice in winter because the plant isn't as active! I use about 1/2 to 3/4 the recommended amount of fertilizer because I would rather under-fertilize than over-fertilize my plants.
If you plan to treat this plant similar to a Canna Lily, you don't need to fertilize and just allow it to decline for winter. If you want a fuller plant in winter, I would still recommending fertilizer even if it is once in the winter like I do.
UW Madison Horticulture Extension: "Plants in containers should be fertilized at least monthly."
There are MANY ways to fertilize and it is completely up to you! There are tons of products out there you can try but an overall rule of thumb for houseplants is that it is best to under-fertilize, rather than over-fertilize. Always use the recommended amount, or less, when applying your fertilizer to houseplants.
Dividing Ginger Plants is the best way to propagate, just like you would a Hosta or an Iris in your landscape!
All part of the Zingiberaceae family
Native to parts of southeast Asia.
Hardiness zone ranges from 8-11
In nature, these plants grow to different heights depending on the plant variety spanning from 5ft to 15ft.
Many varieties are considered invasive depending on locations due to spreading seeds and rhizomes.
I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for the Ginger Plant...
"Where does the name come from?"
All varieties come from the same family which is commonly called the Ginger family. All the common names come from the beautiful, unique flowers each have.
"How big does it get and can you use it for spice?"
Specifically, Alpinia zerumbet, which is the most common Ginger plant found and used as a houseplant can grow upwards of 10ft tall but usually stays a bit smaller in your home. Many parts of the plant can be used in culinary ways. I can't find how the spices are defined, but the word "cardamom" has been thrown around as the type of flavor.
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Love, Holly (Owner & Creator of Houseplant Homebody LLC)